William Gear (1915 – 1997) – City Art Centre, Edinburgh

Gear Edinburgh

We have already written a fairly long piece on the painter William Gear (1915 – 1997). Gear was one of only two British members of the post-war, European, avant-garde movement CoBrA in the 1940s. He went on to produce some of the most radical and controversial paintings of the 1950s.

In the centenary year of his birth, a major retrospective of his work has recently arrived in Edinburgh. Previously shown at The Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, where Gear was curator from 1958-1964, it is a fabulous retrospective show and a privilege to see so many of his works collected together. From early dabblings with Surrealism through to the radical monochrome abstractions of the 1950s and the singing colours and sculptural forms of his mature style from the 1960s to his death in 1997.

The exhibition is showing at City Art Centre until 14th February 2016 and comes highly recommended.  Rather than write a full review, we would only suggest that you consider visiting the exhibition if you can.

Walking around for the first time a few phrases caught the ear and eye:

I was born and brought up on the Fife Coast. Harbours, boats, the sea. It is in the blood.

I was a Parisian now. 

(Gear moved to Paris in the late 1940s where he held his first solo shows and joined CoBrA after meeting Appel, Constant, Corneille and Jorn. Reading this line particularly struck a chord after the brutal terrorist attacks on Paris on Friday 13th 2015. An attack on a city that has always drawn artists to it and excels in celebrating both the highest pleasures and everyday joys of life).

I cannot say in truth that my painting is entirely non-representational, though at no point am I ever obsessed with the rendering of objects in front of me or remembered as such. I continually find that my pictures, when finished, are evocative of something within my visual experience. It may be the corner of my studio, or the view from the window of trees and the Seine and the buildings of the Île de la Cité opposite, or a generalised landscape, interior or assembly of forms.

Trees and boulders take on the menacing form of hidden terror. Imagination plays tricks with the eyes.

In conjunction with a fine exhibition catalogue, a magisterial new book has been written by Andrew Lambirth which is particularly strong on placing Gear within an international context.


We were also delighted and gobsmacked to stumble across a mention of our essay in the Afterword:


William Gear (1915 – 1997): The painter that Britain forgot – City Art Centre Edinburgh, until 14th February 2016. (Free).

Now playing: Philip Corner – Satie Slowly.

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The Eternal Return of Autumn


The eternal return

of the    ephemeral

autumn         ballet




At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost

Rainer Maria Rilke




all                  around

a shedding of leaves

my          green cloak

growing        heavier




I notice that Autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature

Friedrich Nietzsche



Even decay is a form of transformation into other living things, part of the great rampage of becoming that is also unbecoming

Rebecca Solnit



almost                        dark

listen                      –  in(g)

to the huddled whispers

of the forest              flock




autumnal         portal

a suggestion of russet


Above the roof of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s ‘Temple of Apollo’ at Jupiter Artland




Flooding the fissures

of     the stone house

Liquid                 light

rippling            the air



(Redux) When natural cycles turn, brutalist windows can dream of (autumn) trees…


Now playing: Laura Cannell – ‘Born from the Soil’ from Beneath Swooping Talons.

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The 19th Edinburgh Independent and Radical Book Fair 2015


We are delighted to be part of this years Edinburgh Independent & Radical Book Fair, organised by the wonderful Word Power Books. The festival runs from Wednesday 28th October through to Sunday 1st November. The full programme is available here. All of the events take place at Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny Street, just off Leith Walk.

On Friday 30th October at 5.45pm, Murdo Eason introduces From Hill to Sea: Dispatches from the Fife Psychogeographical Collective 2010-2014.


Also, for the duration of the book festival, there will be an exhibition of images and texts by the Fife Psychogeographical Collective: Walls / Objects / Structures.

If you do attend, and get the chance, please say hello.



Now playing: Trembling Bells – The Sovereign Self

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From Hill to Sea: Book and Film


We are delighted to announce that our book, From Hill to Sea, will be published in November 2015 by Bread and Circuses Publishing. (Tom Vague, King Mob, Guy Debord etc). Details about the book’s content and a ten minute film can be viewed on the Bread and Circuses website here.

There will be an initial, full colour, limited edition print run and also an eBook. Further information about the book will be posted here and on the Bread and Circuses website when available. If you are interested in reserving a copy of the numbered, limited edition print run, or being kept informed about the book’s publication, please email:

info [at] breadandcircusespublishing.com

What started out as a short trailer for the book, expanded to a ten minute film. Any rational person may have tried to edit this down but we have left it to view in whole or in part. If nothing else, you can enjoy the sounds of Oneohtrix Point Never and The Durutti Column.

Murdo Eason will also be doing some readings from the book at various forthcoming events. We will post details on this blog and on twitter @fifepsy

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive and encouraging of our endeavours to date. It is greatly appreciated.

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Underneath the M90


Up above, the sound is like a collision of thunder arriving from north and south. Traffic heading to unknown destinations, running up and down the asphalt spine of the M90 motorway. Here, underneath the flyover, the concrete walls have become vast, abstract-expressionist assemblages. Layer upon layer of weather effects, pollution spray, pigment and human mark-making.  It is only the walker who will notice these. Why, would you dwell, to look, if travelling in a car?

Has any disorientated walker followed the arrow east TO DIVIT, or west TO THE RO?


Unusual names – DIVIT, THE RO.

Consulting any official map will be of little help. There will be no record of these places. Perhaps we are standing on a territorial boundary line. DIVIT being a local name for Inverkeithing to the east. THE RO is Rosyth to the west. That human compulsion to establish borders and territories. Points of entry or exit. Lines pronouncing otherness, even when invisible and local.

Not far away, a universally recognised symbol. How many times has a heart shape been inscribed on a surface across time and space? From Cro-Magnon cave walls, via the ancient Greeks – a symbol of life and morality and possibly an association with Dionysus and love – to the more familiar symbol of romantic love emerging in the 1200s. Anyone using social media will recognise <3 <3 <3.

Under this motorway flyover, a black heart in brush stroke, partly over-painted in white. The shape immediately recognisable, a symbol we can all ‘understand’. But does the nuance of its meaning remain with the mark maker? We connect through common language but subtleties of difference always escape, to be either celebrated or repressed.

Is that a human figure we see enclosed within the heart? Possibly kneeling? Who can say?This small detail, on the patina of concrete canvas, remains a daub of mystery. A symbol as elusive and remote from the casual observer as the Pictish symbols, found further up the Fife coast, carved in the Wemyss Caves around 600 – 700 AD.


The difference between the who and the what at the heart of love, separates the heart. It is often said that love is the movement of the heart. Does my heart move because I love someone who is an absolute singularity, or because I love the way that someone is?

Jacques Derrida

Now playing: Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

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The Brutalist Butterfly


Walking up Lady Lawson Street in Edinburgh, I stopped for a closer look at Argyle House, an office block dating from 1968, designed by the architectural practice of Michael Laird & Partners.  The building has many critics and is often described as an ‘eyesore’ and one of Edinburgh’s ‘ugliest buildings’. It appears to exist under a constant threat of erasure from property developers, and the City of Edinburgh Council, proposing new (re)development schemes.

The façade which borders the north side of West Port and the junction of Lady Lawson Street is very much of the brutalist box style. All right angles, rectangular windows and the material heft of concrete and harling.

Today, walking in behind the building, I see it from a different angle. The hidden curves, the windows as light reflecting scales. It takes on the appearance of some brutalist insect, flexing its wings, as if about to fly.

Now playing: Asva – Futurists Against the Ocean.

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The Moon Whispers



Almost fully formed, a singing light filling the sky. The temptation to climb up a ladder, over the chimneys and walk through the clouds. Like a moth, drawn towards the light.




On nights such as this, we all stop to gaze at the moon.

But the moon returns our gaze. Whispers softly to us:


In the dark, I see

a small blue planet.

Care for her well.*

The moon photographed over Fife on 27th August, 2015.

*a contribution to Ai Weiwei & Olafur Eliasson’s interactive Moon project.

Now playing: Terry Riley and Don Cherry – ‘Descending Moonshine Dervishes’ from Live Köln 1975

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